General Question

wundayatta's avatar

Could you burn your pictures and letters and other personal memorabilia?

Asked by wundayatta (58349 points ) February 17th, 2009

I can’t imagine being able to do so. Even if the memories are bad. Sooner or later you come to grips with those memories, but you can never replace these pictures. When people lose everything because their home burned down, the thing they miss the most is their photo albums. A lot of people place those albums (or CDs) on the list of things to save in the event of a fire. Some of these things go back for generations, and show a lot of history.

I’ve heard of writers burning manuscripts; painters trashing paintings, and people burning love letters. I’ve even heard of relatives burning someone else’s letters or journals because it was requested in their will.

Could you do it? Have you done it? And most importantly, why?

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30 Answers

cheebdragon's avatar

My mom destroyed a lot of pictures of my dad during their divorce….it sucks because I don’t have that many pictures of my dad now. But I can understand why she did it, I don’t need to keep any pictures of my ex’s (that’s what myspace is for).

Every once in a while I’ll go through my notebooks and rip out any pages that I wrote on, I rip them up and throw them away, I don’t need my family members to know all the stupid things I have done, so I look at it as destroying the evidence.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

No, I could never do it. That’s part of who you are. Once they’re gone, they’re gonefor good. At some point in time, you may wish you hadn’t destroyed them, & then what do you do? It’s too late then.

dynamicduo's avatar

My mom burned her handwritten journals covering her late teens and early 20s in one night of emotional madness when she was pregnant with me. She regrets it immensely to this day. I’ve learned from this.

jonsblond's avatar

I have burned pictures and letters in the past. They were terrible memories and it just felt like it was toxic having them in the house. I don’t need to hang on to something that will remind me of a bad time in my life. I have my memory for that.

chyna's avatar

Yes, I burned pictures of an ex boyfriend who treated me very badly. I waited 2 years to do it, and then just tossed them in the fire place. It actually felt good to be able to pass on that phase of my life. It didn’t bother me in the least at that point. Maybe any sooner, and it would’ve.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

There are times when it’s the right thing to do.

Grisson's avatar

I tend to hoard that kinda stuff. About a decade ago I was living in a downstairs apartment, went on a 2 week vacation and the sewer backed up into my apartment. It is not difficult to discard memorabilia that stinks.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I took a voicemail tape I had saved of an ex (he’d left a long, romantic message on my phone one night) and smashed it on my terrace with a hammer. I had to. I had to get rid of it or I’d’ve been stuck on him forever.

Gingembre's avatar

Great question!

No, I couldn’t burn pictures or journals or letters…I am terrified of losing mine in a fire. Until recently I kept irreplaceable photo negatives and memorabilia in a safe deposit box at a bank, but finally took them out due to a move. It makes me anxious when I think about them, and so many other photos and documents, being unprotected.

I have a poor memory, so being able to go back to see photos and read what I have written, or what others have written to me, is critical to my sense of self. Those personal items also document a lot of family history, especially since I have always been the family photographer. I’ve often wondered what I would do if I lost all my cherished memorabilia, but have never been tempted to destroy them myself.

I plan to start scanning all of my photos and letters and journals soon, for safekeeping. It will be a huge task, mentally, physically and emotionally, so I’m trying to prepare for it.

answerjill's avatar

I deleted all of the emails from a guy who rejected me. He ended up dying and now I wish that I have kept them.

adreamofautumn's avatar

I have done it in the past and intend to do it again very soon. I feel as though i’m carrying around baggage, drawing bad/painful memories to me. It’s therapeutic, at least for me, to just let them go.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Yes. Yes. I’m not sure why, I guess it’s my artistic temperament.

augustlan's avatar

If the memories they hold are bad ones, I would do it. Other than that, no way.

loser's avatar

I suppose I could but I really wouldn’t want to. I can’t seem to remember stuff like I did when I was younger and I’d hate to totally forget things.

Nimis's avatar

I find that destroying what I’ve created can be a bit cathartic.

As for destroying what others have created, I’d much rather not. Even if they are painful memories, I find it helpful to keep them until they no longer have any power over me.

onesecondregrets's avatar

I’ve done it. Letters and pictures, things I’ve written as well. It was only impulsive-emotionalism and I regretted it immediately after and to this day. But I accepted the reality that I’m not getting these things back. Just sucks. And I have not done it since, no matter the urge when my emotions catch me- I refuse to let myself because I know the regret I’ll feel after.

Darwin's avatar

I save way too much stuff. Over the past couple of years I have been trying to get into the “less is more” mindset. As a result I have indeed thrown out papers, letters, and photos that would be considered memorabilia.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

Yeah, you sure can’t save everything. When we moved in here at this house that was my parents’, mom had saved lots of stuff from me & the grandkids. I just had to shut my eyes, bite the bullet & pitch a lot of that stuff. We had two households to combine, & a lot of it went bye bye. I’m a thrower, so it came pretty easy.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I could never and will never, do that. I have notes from friends as far back as fourth grade and I also have letters from truly important parts of my life. I don’t see the point in getting rid of them… They’re worth remembering, even if some of the memories are very painful. I would also never trash any of my artwork, even if I think it sucks. Keeping even the crappy pieces enables you to look into the past and see your progression as an artist, which in my opinion, is a very valuable thing.

Allie's avatar

I’ve thrown out letters and pictures from an ex-boyfriend. I didn’t hate him or anything, I just didn’t want those things around anymore. I’d rather not be looking for a blank sheet of paper and find an old photo of him and I. Plus, I don’t think I’d want to have to deal with a person I were dating running across them. The memories (good and bad) mean more to me than the photos of them.

jonsblond's avatar

@Allie My sentiments,exactly!

MacBean's avatar

I used to be a complete hoarder. I’d save pretty much anything. But then I moved across the country all by myself and I realized how little of my stuff I actually need. There were very few things that have so much sentimental value attached to them that I couldn’t leave them behind. And I’m not 100% certain, but I think if I could leave them 3,000 miles behind me with no plans of ever getting them back, it’s likely that I could actually burn them.

Jack79's avatar

been there, done that
I thought I’d die and didn’t want them to fall into the wrong hands

nebule's avatar

noooooooooooo no no no no… ahhhhhhhhhh

JoeyDesignsStuff's avatar

Not immediately, no. By the time I finally bring myself to destroy something because of the memory attached to it, it’s festered long enough to be a final decision. It takes a little while, but once it’s gone I don’t regret it.

casheroo's avatar

I think it’s silly to destroy memories like that. To me, it’s like admitting that those memories still affect you, and you need to get rid of them to get over it. Not that anything is wrong with that. I happen to keep everything, usually for laughs to see how silly I was back in the day. I have love letters from my first boyfriend, they’re ridiculous. I showed my husband when we were moving and we stumbled upon them, he got a good laugh out of them. They don’t affect me in any way, so I have no need to burn them.
I just have to make sure my child never reads any of that stuff!

Maldadpermanente's avatar

It would be like erasing your memories.

Aster's avatar

No, I could not burn my huge collection of photos, many of which I got from my parent’s attic. I have two hat boxes totally full of them and many photo albums. About 20% are black and white. I got the hat boxes from TJ Maxx! LOL Knowing my girls, they’ll end up in the city dump someday.

LuckyGuy's avatar

In Asian cultures, where space is at a premium, sentimental items are burned so they can be sent up to heaven.
Since I do not believe in heaven or hell, I’m doomed to hauling my memorabilia wherever I go. I’ll let my kids sort it out.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Yes. I’ve thrown them away, burned them, left them behind with other people. I never thought I could until I had no choice.

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